By Christine Fanning
You want to start a business and you have the need in mind that you want to fill. As an entrepreneur you are willing to take on the financial risk to realize your dream, and the lifestyle sacrifice of an entrepreneur with no paid vacations, benefits or retirement funds are hurdles you are sure you can withstand. Where do you begin, and how can you raise the money you’ll need to make your dream a reality?
First, consider the 20 questions that the The Small Business Administration has constructed to determine if you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur. You can find the questions on the SBA website at sba.gov/starting-business/how-start-business/20-questions-starting.
If your answers convince you you’re on the right track, you will also have some of your research done, which is a starting point, according to Lisa Hutchins, commercial loan manager for ESSA Bank & Trust, headquartered in Stroudsburg.
A business plan continues the analysis, projects the goals of your company several years into the future and sketches out how revenue will be grown. It also describes your potential business and the factors that make it different from other enterprises, Hutchins noted. Also, it’s vital for your appointment with the loan professionals at your bank.
“You need to be prepared,” she said. “Do your legwork and research. Identify your needs and the use of your funds. Are you buying property and equipment? What’s the cost?”
In today’s political climate people are still opening businesses and policy is talked about on news shows and in boardrooms. Entrepreneurs must understand how legislation, as democratic administrations change, can affect their plans.“There are always risks,” Hutchins said. “Know the economic policy and recognize the risks.”
Financing “the dream” is challenging in any economic situation and borrowing from family and friends offers entrepreneurs quick, start up cash especially for business people without a strong credit record. Hutchins said that if a start up is financed this way, the entrepreneur and financier should draw up a formal agreement to bypass any trouble down the road.
The Small Business Administration offers loan programs for specific purposes and Small Business Development Centers like the SBDCs at the University of Scranton and Wilkes University provide educational programs and no cost, confidential, consulting services to entrepreneurs looking to start a small business or grow an existing small business in Northeast Pennsylvania. SCORE chapters (northeastpennsylvania.score.org) are a valuable asset to entrepreneurs, Hutchins said.
It’s important to note that SBA loans are vetted and made by lenders that comply to SBA principles. ESSA, for one, makes small business loans and offers a full-line of business lending products including commercial lines of credit, municipal government loans, commercial letters of credit, commercial and industrial term loans, commercial construction mortgages and commercial construction-to-permanent mortgages.
To assist in the process of securing a business loan, security in the form of real estate or equipment will make your credit relationship with the bank less of a risk, “You do need equity,” Hutchins said. It varies, but 20 percent is generally the amount required.”
If she could give any stronger advice it would be this: “Be committed. You have to know that this is on your shoulders and you have to be able to do things for yourself. Ask for help when you need it.”
For more information, contact Lisa Hutchins at ESSA Bank & Trust at 570-422-0198.